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Scene work

yoshi927 at 8:45PM, Oct. 23, 2007

It's a tutorial on scene work, which I hope is helpful.


(3 star average out of 7 votes)

There are three major components to every scene;

1. “Who”- Who are these people? Not overall, but who are they to eachother?

2. “Where”- Where does the scene take place? Is it in the park on a sunny day and birds are singing, or is it a thunderstorm with an evil castle in the backdrop? “Where” also encompasses “When”.

3. “What”- What's going on? The real question is, why are we looking at this particular day in the character's lives? For instance, take Spiderman. The “What” in the first issue is Parker getting spider powers. If it was just about his normal life as a nerd, what would we get as the audience? Just watching him take tests and get beat up? Boring. Instead, we see him get super powers, because it's one of the special days in his life.

Basically, in a scene, it's never just A day, it's THE day. The day your character gets superpowers, or has his home invaded by angry orcs, or wins the election.


“Who” will need defining at first, but it's not as much of a consideration when people know your comic. You'll need it for minor characters or new characters, but the other two are the big ones…

“Where” Often the best way to show this is background work. That's why handmade backgrounds work the best. You can also establish some of it with the text, but really, you need to show it via backgrounds. If your comic is hand drawn, I suggest using your line style to set the mood. You can draw the same scene with different line styles, and it'll be a completely different scene.

“What” This is the most important one. You need at least some idea of what the characters are doing in the scene. It's the difference between a decent scene and a horrible one. Ask yourself before you write a scene, “Why is this THE day?” The answer may be anything, but it should help you get some perspective on the scene before writing it.

For instance, take the first comic of 8-Bit Theatre. Who? It's immediately obvious that Fighter is an idiot who Black Mage holds in contempt and keeps around to be a meatshield. Where? The Giant's Forest. (an example of using the text to differentiate an ordinary forest from the GIANT'S forest) Why is it THE day? It's the day that they got a tip to find the mystical Armor of Invincibility? No, no, a thousand times no. That was just a minor plot device, whereas it was really THE day that they became Light Warriors. The day didn't START with them becoming Light Warriors, however. Just like, in Spiderman, it started out with a normal school (or, in this case, adventuring) day.

Well, I hope this was helpful. Anyway, I'm out.

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